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Social Change

  • Greenwood, Jeremy

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Guner, Nezih


    (MOVE, Barcelona)

A society is characterized by the common attitudes and behavior of its members. Such behavior reflects purposive decision making by individuals, given the environment they live in. Thus, as technology changes, so might social norms. There were big changes in social norms during the 20th century, especially in sexual mores. In 1900 only six percent of unwed females engaged in premarital sex. Now, three quarters do. It is argued here that this was the result of technological improvement in contraceptives, which lowered the cost of premarital sex. The evolution from an abstinent to a promiscuous society is studied using an equilibrium matching model.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3485.

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Length: 70 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: International Economic Review, 2010, 51(4), 893-923
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3485
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  1. Jovanovic, B. & MacDonald, G.M., 1991. "Competitive Diffusion," Papers 92-08, Rochester, Business - Financial Research and Policy Studies.
  2. Greenwood, Jeremy & Guner, Nezih, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households," CEPR Discussion Papers 6391, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  18. repec:fth:waterl:9503 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Andolfatto, David & Gomme, Paul, 1996. "Unemployment insurance and labor-market activity in Canada," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 47-82, June.
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